Landowner Success Story - July 2, 2007
Submitted by: Pat McGrane, Public Affairs Specialist,
(402) 437-5328, firstname.lastname@example.org
Name: Jon Immink
Location: Endicott, NE (southeast corner of the state)
Customer Success Story (also submitted as Nebraska’s “Featured Customer”):
Typically when people speak of Nebraska ranchers they think of the sprawling grasslands of the Sandhills. Jon Immink and family break that stereotype with 4,400 acres of grazing land in southeast Nebraska.
Doing business as Golden Link, Inc., the family breaks the mold again by raising Braunvieh cattle instead of the more traditional Angus or Hereford breeds found on many Nebraska ranches.
Originally a Michigan native, Jon had to learn the history of the tall grass prairie, and he saw the poor condition of many southeast Nebraska pastures. One of his first acts to improve the grasses was to enter into a Great Plains Conservation Program for grazing rotations on 880 acres in the early 1990’s. In 1999, he started an Environmental Quality Incentives Program contract, dividing more land into paddocks, adding fencing, a dugout, and other water sources. Today the ranch has about 80 paddocks for rotational grazing. He has achieved greater pasture capacity and larger calves weaned through his management.
Immink believes in natural sources for pasture improvement. He will use chemicals to restore grass when necessary but balks at any continued use beyond the initial application. Occasionally he will seed native warm season grasses to improve the pasture and he’s interseeded legumes to bring the rangeland into excellent condition.
“The main deed for this land comes from God, and it is our responsibility to care for it,” said Immink. The ranch has also participated in the Conservation Reserve Program and developed wildlife habitat through the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program. These programs have helped him improve conditions for deer, bobcat, grouse, prairie chickens, pheasant and quail.
Recognizing the value of stewardship, Immink was one of the first Conservation Security Program contract holders in the programs’ pilot year. Since then he has worked with the program to make further enhancements to the land.
When CSP rolled out, he also spoke at public meetings about the program to encourage his neighbors to apply. Helping others has been in his nature as he often gives individual and group tours of the ranch explaining the benefits of his practices. Others seek his advice regarding water placement and types of tanks as they improve their grazing systems.
Traditionally, stockmen in southeast Nebraska pasture their cattle for only five months out of the year. Immink’s management program enables him to winter-graze the land and extends the use of his pastures to 10 months or more, limiting the amount of hay he has to feed. Neighbors, who didn’t believe his methods could work in this part of the state, are now trying to stretch their grazing days on their own pastures.
Immink said, “Truth is, we are actually ‘grass farmers’. We manage our pastures to improve plant diversity and the health of the entire system. We raise grass and harvest with cattle.”
|Photo by Joanna Pope, PAS.